Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Pleads the cause of the salvation of all mankind

"It is evident from the concluding verse of this Psalm that Asaph does not think here only of the Jewish people, but also pleads the cause of the salvation of all mankind on earth, all of whose existence and welfare is dependent, first of all, upon the proper enforcement of justice and right."

Hirsch Siddur, p. 214, Psalm for Tuesday

Thursday, October 17, 2019

R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz

"R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz told his students in America, “I cannot understand how it is possible for an American yeshiva student to be Jewish without ‘The Nineteen Letters’” "(Klugman, 1998)

from Return to Basics: A Call to Revitalize R’ Hirsch’s Torah im Derech Eretz

Read more

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Happy and glad of heart

Selections From Hayom Yom (Chabad) - 16 Adar II

"As one of his spiritual tasks, a businessman should arouse within himself the faith and absolute trust that He Who nourishes and sustains all flesh will grant him an ample living. He should be genuinely happy and glad of heart, as if his livelihood had already been placed before him."

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Minhag ashkenas/yekke kenes (gathering)

Minhag ashkenas/yekke kenes (gathering)
B'nai Brak, Thursday, 5:30 pm mincha

Where: B'nai Brak, 25 Ben Yaakov St., very near the Coke factory, first stop on bus

Mincha followed by a drasha, then Maariv, than chazanus

People from yekke communities from all over Eretz Yisroel will be in attendance. Special sefarim will be on sale. There is a section for ladies.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Study Torah as a businessman

Our task in life has no greater enemy, and there is no greater cancer on our present state, than ignorance. Study Torah thoroughly—Torah, the Prophets, Ketuvim (Hagiographia), Talmud and decisors. And do not study out of a desire to be a rabbi. Study Torah as a businessman, a tradesman, an artist, a doctor, or a scientist.

Collected Writings, vol. 7, pp. 157 [Ges. Schrift., vol. 5, p. 225] in Torah Leadership for Our Times, Jewish Action

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

We love Zion and therefore we are non-Zionists.

...truth compels us to state unequivocally that most certainly Zionism is not at all identical with Judaism that in fact it is diametrically opposed to it. Zionism is a political philosophy which considers the divine nation of the Torah a nation like all others, albeit with certain religious traditions which you are free to accept or reject as an individual, and which may or may not become part of the law of the Jewish land, subject to a majority vote of a democratic parliament. Zionism has transformed the holy land, the holy tongue, the holy nation into secular entities, according atheists and anti-religionist Jews at best equal status with firm believers. Zionism has created a sovereign state which is governed like all other states by its own man-made laws and not by the G-d given laws of the Torah. All these are dry facts which cannot be disputed. The term “Zionism” is derived from the name Zion (ציון) which is one of the most sacred words in our authentic Jewish dictionary:
ציון משכן כבודך
Zion is the dwelling place of G-d's glory. רחם על ציון כי היא בית חיינו Zion is the house of our life – Zion is the citadel of G-d, promised us by the Creator, for which we long in our daily prayers and which has never ceased to belong to us. Zion is the Sanctuary of the Torah, the holy city which surrounds it, the holy land of which it is is and forever – the abode of the Shechina on earth, from which the word of G-d shall come forth and over which a new light will shine – the Zion of David and Shlomoh, the Zion of our Prophets and Sages and singers and mourners and lovers – all this is very opposite of Zionism. No! A thousand times no! We love Zion and therefore we are non-Zionists. (R' Shimon Schwab, 1908-1993)

R' Shimon Schwab, Selected Writings (CIS: Lakewood, NJ, 1998), pp. 147-8.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Repentance, Prayer and Charity

In the Unesaneh Tokef tefillah on Yom Kippur we read: “U’tshuva, U’tfila, U’tzedaka ma’avirin es roah hagzeira.” “Repentance, Prayer and Charity remove the unfavorable decree.” Why would these three mitzvos remove the decree more than any other mitzvah?

Rabbi Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky presents some thoughts from the Maharal to explain. Teshuvah means return. Via proper teshuvah we return to Hashem. The Maharal explains that these three activities parallel the Torah, Avodah, and Gemillas Chasadim upon which the world stands (as listed in Pirkei Avos), which in turn parallel the intellectual, emotional, and physical domains of existence.

In Nesiv HaTeshuva, Ch. 5, the Maharal writes:

A principle and a foundation of Teshuva is that a person should be embarrassed over the sin he has done, and because of his embarrassment he is received in teshuvah. (Berachot 12b): “Rav Chinina Saba says in the name of Rav: ‘Anyone who commits a sin and is embarrassed, has all his sins forgiven…’ “

This is the intellectual component of the formula, a recognition that we have not lived up to our potential. Through confession to Hashem, we connect to Him in humility.

Now that we have an intellectual recognition, we turn to prayer. We give our hearts over to Hashem in humility. In Nesiv Ha’Avodah chapter 1, the Maharal writes:

When man prays before G-d, declaring his need and dependence, he shows that he belongs to G-d (the way a slave belongs to an owner because of his dependence). This is why prayer is the essence of service, as it demonstrates man’s complete dependence on and subjugation to G-d.

Lastly, we turn to tzedukah. Through the giving of tzedukah, we give our physical selves. We show our recognition that our possessions are gifts from above to be used in divine service. In Nesiv Hatzedaka, chapter 1, the Maharal writes:

Whenever one bestows charity on others, G-d assists him by providing more money that enables him to continue bestowing charity on others. This is because one who bestows on others is compared to a flowing spring whose waters flow great distances. G-d, who is the source of all bounty bestows resources upon this person in order that he should be able to bestow and share these resources.

Tzeduka connects us to the source of bracha by making us a conduit to the giving of bracha to others.

Sunday, October 6, 2019


Gems from George Orwell:

At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.

War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.

On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.

Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.

It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it; consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception.

Friday, October 4, 2019


As the Esrog is compared to the heart, Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l suggests that when a person takes the Esrog on Succos he takes a moment to thank Hashem for his actual heart. According to the Mayo Clinic, the heart beats 86,400 to 144,000 times a day. That’s around 52 million times a year or over 4 billion in the average lifetime. Ideally, we’d thank Hashem for each one of those. As Rav Miller goes on to say, our primary obligation in this world is to thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu. That’s what Avodas Hashem really means, to express constantly our gratitude.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Somewhere along the line

"Somewhere along the line, in the service of home and country, I forgot about the service of G-d." Israeli soldier who left religion during his time in the army. (N. Seltzer, Stories with a Twist, p. 66)

The Israeli army experience has an intensity unlike that probably of any army in the world, except maybe North Korea. It isn't only about training in warfare or technology. It's indoctrination about the Holocaust, about Arabs, about alleged Israeli invincibility, about how God supposedly didn't protect us in the past so we'll do it for ourselves now.

This of course is the dynamic of the Sin of the Golden Calf. Moshe hadn't returned so they made an idol to replace him. The army is that idol. 

It's all done with a religious fervor by people who have no other religion. And a young person can easily get lost in the shouting, bullying, chest pumping, and propagandizing. The intent is to transfer obedience to Hashem to obedience to commanders. 

Military training in general is designed to create obedience to commanders. How else do you teach a normal person to kill? Most people don't have that in them. That's why universal draft only makes sense when a country is being invaded by another nation. You pay a big price for a draft. It damages people. And it really damages those who are not military types, which is most people. 

It does not make sense just to draft people because maybe, maybe you'll need them in a time of war. Nothing is free in this life. You pay a big price for drafting the whole nation. And I'm not even talking about the economic price which is also huge. I'm talking about a psychological price. 

And then there's the religious price. The army experience kills religious feeling. I have seen that in soldier after soldier. Publicity shots of soldiers wearing tefillin by the kosel are just that, publicity photos. They mask what goes on in the hearts of the soldiers which is a change from yiras shemayim to yiras Chief of Staff, yiras Colonel, Heaven save us.

The Israeli draft is a complete violation of religious freedom because the Israeli army is a religion unto itself. No wonder soldiers come in religious and leave non-religious. I have met more than a few like that.

The one in the N. Seltzer story found his way back. Others do not.

For chilonim, there is damage too. I know several who told me the army ruined them. One told me he still gets nightmares. Another told me he contemplated suicide regularly while in the army. But the contrast of pre-army to army is not nearly as big. chilonim don't lose their religion in the army. They are raised on the army of religion.

In my view, the Israeli army should be a professional army. America loses far more soldiers every year but still staffs its enormous military. And only parts of America are military oriented. All of Israel, except for the charedim, is obsessed with the military and Israel actually loses very few soldiers. So I doubt they'd  have trouble filling their ranks with professional soldiers. This is the belief of the Zehut party.

Leave the charedim out of it please. We don't want your money. We just want no part of the military and its culture.

I leave you with this piece from the Sentry:

As a result of a concerted effort to silence any voice of opposition to Chareidi army enlistment, many in the Sephardic community are completely unaware of the severe prohibition of army enlistment. Being that the Sephardim are the hardest hit in the Chareidi draft effort, the silence in this community is having deadly results. For a targeted victim who is unaware of any threat to his welfare, is deprived of a chance to combat the enemy.
 This past Friday was the yartzeit of Chacham Ovadiah Yosef zatzal. Yungerleit from the organization Ohr HaMizrach stood outside the kever of Chacham Ovadiah and handed out papers to people coming to daven. Included in the papers was a sharp letter signed by Chacham Ovadiah and other Sephardic Gedolim, decrying the effort to convince Chareidim that joining “Nachal Chareidi” is allowed; as it’s no different from enlisting in the standard units of the army. They also specified that even one who is not learning is also prohibited from enlisting in the army. It is well known that during the shiva for his son, Chacham Ovadiah expressed to PM Netanyahu that the plans to draft Bnei HaYeshiva are more painful to him than the passing of his own son.